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The Asia-Pacific Report

Sameera Casmod |
23 May 2024 | 12:31 p.m. SAST
2-minute read

In this week’s Asia-Pacific Report, research associate at the Centre for Global Dialogue, Sanusha Naidu discussed concerns over political turmoil in New Caledonia, disruptions to the India-UK trade deal, and escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

The situation in New Caledonia has escalated following changes to voting laws, allowing French citizens residing on the island for over ten years to participate in local elections.

This move has sparked protests among indigenous Kanak people, who fear it could dilute their efforts for self-determination and independence from France.

The unrest has led to significant disruptions, with countries like Australia and New Zealand evacuating their nationals, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the territory postponed amidst growing violence.

The broader geopolitical context surrounding New Caledonia’s unrest involves the increasing influence of China in the Pacific islands, prompting pushback from countries like the US and Australia.

Recent elections in the Solomon Islands, where China’s growing presence was a contentious issue, underscore the strategic competition between global powers in the region.

The US-China rivalry plays a significant role in shaping diplomatic and security dynamics, with countries vying for influence through various means, including security cooperation and development assistance.

The progress of the India-UK trade deal has been hindered by political instability in the UK, particularly surrounding the leadership of the Conservative Party.

With Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak calling for elections on July 4th, uncertainties loom over the future of the trade negotiations.

Despite discussions since 2022, challenges remain regarding tariffs and post-Brexit trade strategies. The outcome of the UK elections will likely determine the trajectory of the trade deal, with implications for both countries’ economic interests.

India’s recent deployment of warships in the South China Sea signifies its growing role in regional security dynamics. The South China Sea, a contested area with overlapping territorial claims, has become a focal point of geopolitical tensions, Naidu noted.

India’s engagement in naval exercises with Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, reflects its efforts to counterbalance China’s assertive behaviour in the region.

The strategic importance of the South China Sea has attracted multiple external powers, adding complexity to maritime disputes and security concerns.

The Indian Ocean region is witnessing heightened geopolitical competition, particularly between India and China.

India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, viewed as its backyard, have been challenged by China’s expanding presence, as evidenced by recent developments in the Maldives. The Maldives’ tilt towards China in its diplomatic relations has raised concerns in India, prompting a proactive response to safeguard its interests in the region.

Listen to the Asia-Pacific Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Muallimah Annisa Essack.


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